Figures from Springboard for the month show that shopping centres were affected the worst with a decline of 80.5%. High streets saw a drop of 78.2% and footfall at retail parks declined 55.1% for the period.
However, May’s two bank holidays did ease the impact of lockdown. In the week leading up to each bank holiday footfall rose by an average of 12% compared with the previous week.
Smaller high streets have also been resilient as shoppers stay local. Footfall in regional cities declined 88.8% in May compared with a 41.1% decline across the UK’s smallest high streets.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard insights director said: “The subject on everyone’s lips is what will the likely success be of the reopening of non-essential retail on 15 June. The limited evidence so far has suggested that despite the growth in online shopping over the past two months, there is a huge amount of pent up demand amongst consumers for bricks and mortar shopping.
“The first indication of this were the monumental queues that built up at major home stores in the weekend before the official easing of lockdown restrictions in England on 1 June; footfall strengthened noticeably in retail parks over the first few days of the week following this, with the decline averaging -42.9% versus -56.2% over the same days at the beginning of May.
“Whilst retail parks are already seeing some recovery in footfall, this is certainly not the case for high streets and shopping centres, where the decline in footfall over the few days since 1 June still remains at more than -70.0%. Inevitably it has been smaller high streets that have been the most resilient as consumers stayed local, with footfall in UK regional cities declining by -88.8% in May compared with -41.4% across the smallest high streets.
“The key trend to be watched over the period of retail reopening in June, and over subsequent months, will be whether this signals the beginning of a new era for local high streets. Certainly, what is likely is that those destinations and retailers that are best able to manage customer numbers to ensure social distancing will be the most in demand by consumers as safety during shopping is paramount.”